In this playoff edition of the Vancouver Canucks prospects report, Arshdeep Bains has continued to produce in the postseason for the Red Deer Rebels, while Viktor Persson has rediscovered his offensive game with the Kamloops Blazers. Meanwhile, out east, Ethan Keppen has led the Flint Firebirds to the second round of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) playoffs after a 4-2 win over the Owen Sound Attack in the franchise’s first-ever Game 7.
Jumping over to the American Hockey League (AHL) and the short playoff stint for Vasily Podkolzin and the Abbotsford Canucks, the 20-year-old Russian made an impact in his first (and likely only) two appearances in the AHL as he scored the goal that almost won Game 1 and recorded an assist on Sheldon Rempal’s third-period goal in Game 2. Unfortunately for him and the Canucks, their Calder Cup run is now over as the Bakersfield Condors are off to the next round after winning the best-of-three series 2-0.
Bains Continues to Dazzle in First Round of WHL Playoffs
Bains just can’t stop producing points, can he? After recording an impressive 112 points during the regular season and winning the WHL scoring title as well as being named a First-Team All-Star, he has continued his run of points in the postseason. With eight points (3 goals, 5 assists) during the Rebels’ 4-2 series victory over the Brandon Wheat Kings in the first round, his swan song appears to have a few more notes left in it before he makes the jump to the AHL next season. Not only was he impressive all series long, but he was also instrumental in his team’s series-clinching win in Game 6 where he had a goal and three assists in what ended up as a 5-4 triple-overtime victory.
Bains and the Rebels will now get ready to face the vaunted Edmonton Oil Kings led by Arizona Coyotes’ top prospect Dylan Guenther, Detroit Red Wings’ goaltender of the future Sebastian Cossa and Montreal Canadiens’ number-one defensive prospect Kaiden Guhle. Guenther had five points in his team’s sweep of the Lethbridge Hurricanes while Cossa went 4-0 with a 1.50 goals-against average (GAA), .936 save percentage (SV%) and one shutout. The Rebels will hope that the dynamic duo of Bains and Ben King who combined for 16 points (7 goals, 9 assists) in the first round can continue their hot play and potentially upset one of the best teams in the WHL when the series gets going tonight (May 5).
2022 WHL Playoffs Second Round (*if necessary)
- May 5 – Rebels at Oil Kings
- May 7 – Rebels at Oil Kings
- May 9 – Oil Kings at Rebels
- May 11 – Oil Kings at Rebels
- *May 13 – Rebels at Oil Kings
- *May 14 – Oil Kings at Rebels
Persson Rediscovers Offensive Game Against the Chiefs
After finishing the regular season on a five-game point drought, Persson rediscovered his offensive magic against the Spokane Chiefs in the first round. In fact, he’s been quite successful against them this season, as he recorded a goal and an assist in two games during the regular season and had three points in the Blazers’ five-game series win. He also finished with a plus-6 in the plus/minus column.
The 6-foot-2 Swede, who was drafted 191st overall by the Canucks in 2020, will now get ready to face the upstart Vancouver Giants, fresh off their upset of the top-ranked Everett Silvertips. Led by Zach Ostapchuk’s 16 points and Fabian Lysell’s 15, the Giants have proven to be a tough out after finishing the season 15 games under .500. Now Persson and the Blazers have to hope they aren’t the next giant to fall after posting 99 points to Vancouver’s 53. For reference, the Silvertips finished with 100 and the WHL’s second-best point total behind the Winnipeg ICE who had 111.
2022 WHL Playoffs Second Round (*if necessary)
- May 6 – Giants at Blazers
- May 7 – Giants at Blazers
- May 10 – Blazers at Giants
- May 12 – Blazers at Giants
- *May 13 – Giants at Blazers
- *May 15 – Blazers at Giants
- *May 17 – Giants at Blazers
Keppen and Firebirds Play & Win First Game 7 in Franchise History
While Bains is dominating the WHL Playoffs for the Rebels, Keppen is doing the same in the OHL with the Firebirds. In the franchise’s first-ever Game 7, he shone to the tune of four shots, including a goal where he dove for a rebound and whipped a shot by Attack goaltender Nick Chenard for a 2-1 lead. The game ended 4-2 and capped off an epic seven-game series where he had four goals and seven points.
The 6-foot-2 Whitby, ON native is playing in his final season in the OHL and will be hoping to finish it off with at least an OHL Championship if not a Memorial Cup. Sporting an “A” on his jersey, he and his teammates will now face the Soo Greyhounds in what promises to be another hard-fought seven-game series. The Greyhounds prevailed 4-1 over the Guelph Storm in the first round, who finished five points behind them in the standings.
Led by a balanced attack that included eight players with four points or more, the Greyhounds should prove to be a formidable opponent. Jack Thompson (Tampa Bay Lightning), Ryan O’Rourke (Minnesota Wild), Tye Kartye (Seattle Kraken), and Cole MacKay (undrafted) all made their presence felt with 12 goals and 30 points between them and that’s not even with 43-goal scorer Rory Kerins finding the back of the net. Although, he did have five helpers.
2022 OHL Playoffs Second Round (*if necessary)
- May 6 – Greyhounds at Firebirds
- May 8 – Greyhounds at Firebirds
- May 10 – Firebirds at Greyhounds
- May 12 – Firebirds at Greyhounds
- *May 14 – Greyhounds at Firebirds
- *May 16 – Firebirds at Greyhounds
- *May 18 – Greyhounds at Firebirds
Podkolzin & Martin Shine in Brief AHL Playoff Appearance Against the Condors
After an NHL rookie season that saw him record 14 goals and 26 points in 79 games, along with a plus-7 in the plus/minus column and three game-winning goals, Podkolzin got a taste of playoff action in the AHL when he suited up for two games in Abbotsford’s 2-0 series defeat to the Condors. He wasn’t a passenger either, as he showed why he belongs in the NHL rather than the AHL. There were even times when he looked out of place, not because he was overwhelmed, but because he likely couldn’t believe the disorganized nature of the minor leagues.
Podkolzin almost became the hero in Game 1 when he scored the 1-0 goal in what could only be called the Spencer Martin show. Even though he’s not technically a prospect, the 26-year-old future backup of the Canucks did all he could to will his team to victory with 41 saves in regulation only to concede the tying goal with 30 seconds remaining and the winner 6:39 into overtime.
Podkolzin and Martin were at it again in Game 2 when the former recorded an assist on Rempal’s third-period goal that tied the game at two and the latter made 30 saves in what became another tight 3-2 defeat. The winning goal by Cooper Marody was controversial too as he crosschecked Jarid Lukosevicius into Martin before firing it into the empty cage.
It was a crushing defeat for an Abbotsford team that went on an insane 9-2 run to end the regular season and saw multiple players hit career highs. Leading the way were the two Sheldons, Dries and Rempal who had 68 goals between them. Martin also had a magical season both in the AHL and NHL, recording a 2.43 goals-against average (GAA) and .914 save percentage (SV%) along with three shutouts and a 19-4-2 record in the former and a 1.74 GAA, .950 SV% and a 3-0 record in the latter.
Podkolzin will be back in the NHL full-time next season as the big Russian will fight his way to becoming a fixture in the top six alongside J.T. Miller and Elias Pettersson. Martin, meanwhile, will take up residence in Braden Holtby and Jaroslav Halak’s stall as the backup to all-world goaltender Thatcher Demko. With Bains, Keppen and possibly even Persson and Linus Karlsson joining the fray in Abbotsford next season, it should be another interesting campaign to follow in the Valley.
Keep it locked to the Canucks Prospects Report as we continue to bring you all the news throughout the offseason and into a new season in 2022-23.
Matthew Zator is a THW freelance writer, media editor, and scout who lives and breathes Vancouver Canucks hockey, the NHL Draft, and prospects in general. He loves talking about young players and their potential. Matthew is a must-read for Canucks fans and fans of the NHL Draft and its prospects. For interview requests or content information, you can follow Matthew through his social media accounts which are listed under his photo at the conclusion of articles like this one about Tyler Motte.